Hi everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. To follow up a great week, I’m posting an interview with Kensington author Carrie Lofty. Carrie’s first book, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, met with great success. Her second book, SCOUNDREL’S KISS is out this January and is already getting wonderful reviews! Read the interview below then leave a comment. One lucky person will win a copy of Carrie’s book!

Can you tell us a little about your latest medieval romance, SCOUNDREL’S KISS?

SCOUNDREL’S KISS is the stand-alone sequel to my Robin Hood-themed debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. When last we saw Ada of Keyworth, she’d just been rescued from the Sheriff of Nottingham and had seriously burnt bridges with her family. She and a young admirer, Jacob ben Asher, head off to Spain together. But she’s haunted by the unlawful and sickening torture she endured and turns to opium for relief…

Gavriel de Marqueda is a warrior on the verge of taking his vows with the Order of Santiago. Before he can do so, he must pass one final test: save Ada from herself. He’s vowed obedience, nonviolence, and chastity, but Ada refuses to be held against her will, even for her own good, and vows to use every possible resource to thwart Gavriel’s offer of aid.

Why Spain? And why a warrior monk?

Once the idea fired up inside my imagination, I couldn’t let it go. Maybe writing a warrior monk hero just sounded intriguing and sexy at the time. Imagine all the training and hard-earned experience of a warrior, but all the humility and, ahem, celibacy of a monk. Talk about conflict!

When writing a novel, what comes first for you, characters, setting, or plot?

I always begin with the setting. I get an idea of where I want the tale to take place–somewhere cold, warm, exotic, familiar. From there I learn my characters. Are the foreigners to this setting I’ve chosen? Raised there? Just passing through? Once I feel that I know them inside and out, the plot comes last. When I arrive at that stage in the process of telling the story, I’m a complete panster!

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I love lush, beautiful writing, so my favorite romance authors are Candice Procter, Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale, and Patricia Gaffney. They all craft such amazing stories, not simply packed with emotion and fascinating characters, but with poetic language to describe every aspect of the hero and heroine’s lives. I read those books and knew that’s what I wanted to write. Those are the kinds of stories I love to read, so why not give them a try in my own style with my own unique voice?

What’s next for you?

I’ve had really great news in the last few weeks. First, my Austrian-set historical romance–in which a widowed violin prodigy begins a steamy affair with a renowned composer, only to learn that he stole the symphony he’s most famous for–will launch Harlequin’s new digital-only venture, Carina Press, in June. You can read an excerpt here. And then, coming soon from Penguin, is the “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy of hot-n-dirty apocalyptic romances that I co-wrote with Ann Aguirre. We’re working together under the name Ellen Connor. Visit our website for excerpts and details. It’s all very new and exciting for me!

Thanks Carrie!

Remember to leave a comment for your chance to win a book! Winner will be announced Wednesday evening!